Trident Tech using Truist grant for trucker training classes, Berkeley campus renovation | Business

MONCKS CORNER — A Truist Foundation grant will help Trident Technical College offer driver training for commercial vehicles starting this fall and kick off a major renovation of its Berkeley County campus for a center supporting South Carolina’s $37.2 billion transportation and logistics industry.

The $1 million grant from Truist Bank’s philanthropic arm, announced Thursday, will be added to $1 million from Berkeley County and a $100,000 private donation to begin a commercial driver’s license program, the first of its kind for Trident Tech.

Eventually, the college hopes to raise $32 million to renovate the Moncks Corner campus to provide an array of training for maritime, logistics and manufacturing jobs. The logistics and transportation center will be located in an area that used to house aeronautics training programs. The college has moved those programs to its new South Carolina Aeronautical Training Center off Rivers Avenue in North Charleston.

SC's $37.2B logistics industry proof cargo needs to move despite coronavirus

Mark Lattanzio, Truist’s market president, said the transportation and logistics center will be “a transformational initiative in the Lowcountry.”

“Creating the training needed to fill these high-paying jobs will greatly benefit the entire distribution ecosystem and build career pathways to economic mobility among racially and ethnically diverse communities, including people who have lost jobs and do not otherwise have a platform to enter the logistics workforce,” Lattanzio said in a written statement. “This training center will benefit regional economic development, stability of critical infrastructure and supply chain resiliency.”

A recent study by the S.C. Council on Competitiveness shows employment in businesses that help move freight increased to 139,650 workers statewide in 2020 — nearly 25,800 more than when the last study was conducted in 2017, for a 7 percent annual growth rate. Those jobs, with benefits, average nearly $49,000 in annual compensation.

SC trucking industry seeks more training scholarships to ease driver shortage

Among the jobs the new training center will target include warehouse and distribution centers, air freight providers, manufacturing plants and those supporting the Port of Charleston. 

We’re starting a weekly newsletter about the business stories that are shaping Charleston and South Carolina. Get ahead with us – it’s free.

“The high-tech workforce training facility will serve apprentices and adults seeking new skills and job opportunities, as well as high school graduates and others who are interested in rapid access to employment,” said Mary Thornley, Trident Tech’s president.

Trident Technical College Berkeley County campus

Trident Technical College plans to establish a transportation and logistics center at its Berkeley County campus in Moncks Corner as part of a $32 million renovation of the site. Trident Technical College/Provided

The CDL license training also aims to close the gap between a shortage of long-haul truckers and a growing demand. The Commercial Vehicle Training Association estimates the nation lost 200,000 commercial drivers in 2020 due to the pandemic, licensing delays, closures of private training schools and the retirements of older drivers.

A report by the CNBC television network shows demand for truck drivers doubled toward the end of last year, even as trucking firms said they are having trouble hiring drivers and keeping those they already have. The shortage impacts inventory levels at stores and creates higher shipping costs that are passed on to consumers.

SC's new aeronautical center a place to train and inspire

All told, the trucking industry moves 72.5 percent of the nation’s freight by weight, employs about 3.6 million drivers and pays more than $45 billion annually in federal and state taxes, according to the American Trucking Associations.

Trident Tech’s Berkeley County campus opened in 1982 when the county was less developed. Since then, the county has seen an influx of warehouses and distribution centers as well as manufacturing campuses like the $1.1 billion Volvo Cars plant near Ridgeville.

The transportation and logistics center follows an $80 million investment the college made in its 218,000-square-foot aeronautics center, built to train students for jobs with Boeing Co. and other aerospace firms in the Palmetto State.

Reach David Wren at 843-937-5550 or on Twitter at @David_Wren_